Panda Boom? Conservation Efforts Working?

While giant pandas in captivity have a difficult time procreating . . . it appears of recent date, this much-loved species is no longer being threatened by extinction. As of late 2016, this lovable creature was downgraded from ‘Endangered’ to ‘Vulnerable’ on the global list of species at risk.

Positive Change

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) was the first to announce the positive change to the giant panda’s official status in the ‘Red List of Threatened Species.’ It pointed to a 17% rise in the population over the last ten years, when a nationwide census found 1,864 giant pandas in the wild in China.

“For over 50 years, the giant panda has been the planet’s most beloved conservation icon as well as the symbol of World Wildlife Foundation. Knowing that the panda is now a step further from extinction is an exciting moment for everyone committed to conserving the world’s wildlife and their habitats,” said Marco Lambertini, WWF Director General.

Captivity is another story . . .

On the flip-side, as of December 2014, less than 50 giant pandas were living in captivity outside China [where there are approximately 300.] As of December 2014, 49 documented giant pandas lived in 18 zoos in 13 different countries.

Breeding giant pandas is incredibly difficult. Females only ovulate once a year. Coupled with that limitation, the narrow window a male has to inseminate prospective mothers while in ovulation is only about 36-40 hours. And in captivity, many male pandas appear disinterested in mating or seem lacking the skills, sort of speak!

Over the past 30 years . . .

Over the past three decades, biologists have addressed significant technological bottlenecks, such as artificial feeding and management, breeding and rearing infants, diseases prevention and population heredity management.

However, even with those impediments, there have been breakthroughs achieving a good number of innovative scientific results. More than 70 scientific projects have been awarded national, municipal technical innovation honors and scientific progress awards.

While paying much attention to both scientific research and tourism development, it has also shaped a sustainable development mode of industry-university-research-tourism cooperation.


For those following the life and times of one captive giant panda in the States, Bao Bao who was born at the Smithsonian National Zoo August 23, 2013 will be returning to her homeland of China soon.

In advance of her U.S. departure, the Smithsonian's National Zoo will host a celebratory series of events, dubbed #ByeByeBaoBao. See the complete schedule of activities here.

Hopefully, Bao Bao will lead a long and [re]productive life, which will contribute to the Panda Boom for many, many years to come.

Primary Source: World Wildlife Foundation